New biking trails to be set up in Iron County

CRYSTAL FALLS — The Iron County Board gave an initial green light Tuesday to creating a small network of trails, primarily for mountain biking, on county-owned land near West Iron High School and the airport in Iron River.

The Iron County Trail Club has proposed setting up a quarter-mile track along Washington Street south of West Iron School, north of Hebert Construction and east of the Stambaugh Airport runway.

The hope is the new trail would become yet another attraction for Iron County visitors, along with providing local mountain bikers with a place to ride.

The three-stage construction process will include marking the trail route, using a leaf blower to clear a basic trail and some raking and light shoveling to even out the terrain where needed, the club stated in the proposal to the county board. Much of the work would be funded and done by club volunteers.

The county board’s main questions Tuesday centered on liability. Corporate counsel Steven Tinti advised that state law generally shields the county from all but willfull and wanton misconduct, such as stringing a wire across the trail. Simple injury from use would be quickly dismissed in the courts, he said, adding it helps the trail is not for motorized vehicles.

But Tinti did recommend the county develop a license for the private organization to operate and maintain the trail, with the requirement the club carry liability insurance, adding that usually is not a significant expense. The trail also will have to remain open to all, he said.

Benjamin Garcia, a member of the Iron County Trail Club, told the board Tuesday they anticipated covering such insurance.

The board directed Tinti to prepare a license for the club to set up the trail.

In other business, the board:

— Heard a request from the Iron County Fair Board for more funding to cover improvements and repairs. Some fair board members had interpreted a county budget line as stating $15,000 might be available; the fairgrounds in the meantime completed needed work on plumbing, lighting and several buildings. County Commissioner Raymond Coates suggested the county’s 10-year agreement to provide $4,000 a year be altered to allow the fair board to collect two years of funding in advance and forego the last two years of payments. Fair board member Dave Frailing of Iron River said he would bring that proposal back to the board for consideration but thought it was an acceptable solution.

— Learned the county Monday sold by bid nine of 18 properties that had been foreclosed on and cleared of structures by the county.

— Agreed to meet at 8 a.m. June 27 on proposals to remodel the Iron County ambulance service garage.

— Will allow Julie Kezerle, recently appointed county clerk and register of deeds, to opt out of taking county health insurance, instead being paid $140 more a month, as is provided to county union employees who opt out of the insurance.

— Authorized increasing the juvenile register/deputy district court position from 26.5 hours to 28 hours and the part-time position in the treasurer’s office to 30 hours as well.

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